I recently read an article in the Journal of Science and Healing that discussed a new phenomena called FOMO, or fear of missing out. The following explanation is extrapolated from the research done by psychologist Andrew Przybylski of the University of Essex, and colleagues at University of California-Los Angeles and University of Rochester.
Here are their findings
“ *FOMO is a driving force behind social media use. *FOMO levels are highest in young people and young men in particular. *Low levels of need satisfaction and life satisfaction are linked to high FOMO. *FOMO is high in those who engage in distracted driving. *FOMO is high in students who use social media during classes.”
What many of us don’t realize is that believing that we are connecting through a “social network” is an oxymoron. I have witnessed individuals having dinner with friends while their cell phones sit next to their plate. If they hear the ping of a text or an e-mail, they start twitching, their hand reaching out almost involuntarily to grab the phone. After all, whoever is calling has clearly got to be paid attention to because it could be the Queen of England or someone of equal importance that needs your counsel. Could it be more serious than that like a child or parent in distress? Yes, but the chances of that are slim. Does the need to know who is calling exceed realizing that you are being rude and distracted from being in the present moment?
Many of us have been witness to the above and have become somewhat deadened to it. What we haven’t come to grips with is that 3,000 teens die annually from texting, and 300,000 sustain injuries from texting while driving. Oh yes, adults do it too, but their bliss comes from talking on their cell. I stood on a corner in my hometown once and practically every driver was talking on their cell. It has been shown that reaction time slows to that of a seventy year old driver and doubles the likelihood of an accident. The rationale from those who do it is that if you have a passenger you talk to them. But the good news is they can warn you if you’re in danger, it’s another set of eyes. The person on the phone can’t do that, unless their imbued with telekinesis.
What I find fascinating is that all the energy that goes into not missing out is creating a life that enables “missing out”. Believe me, I am not advocating getting rid of our phones and tech gadgets. But, we do need to give us ourselves a reality check. Try disconnecting from FOMO for even a couple of hours a day so you can really connect to where you are and who you’re with.
We live in a society that seems to love extremes. I grew up in a family and an era that valued moderation. My grandparents, and my parents lived through the depression and World War Two. The value they held most dear was frugality. They saved everything no matter how small. Every meal had leftovers since overeating was viewed as a cardinal sin. Closets were small and contained minimal amounts of clothing. I often watch HGTV and find myself cracking up at the fact that many of the negative comments revolve around closet size. They are often viewed as “too small”. One woman had more than a hundred pair of shoes that she said needed their own space. Did she think the shoes would get lonely if there were only a few? The ultimate irony is that our culture has segued into bigger and bigger homes and most people end up not using all of them. Eventually the children leave and you end up being alone in your big space and move to an Assisted Living because you’re lonely.
The home I was born in was the residence for the entire family. It was a three story and my grandparents, aunts, and uncles lived there as well as a couple of boarders, the ultimate assisted living. Rooms were not designated for a specific purpose. There was no mud room play room, man cave or en suite. I have never understood the need for a “mud room”, unless you’re coming in from planting corn in the North Forty. I played in the kitchen with pots and pans, rolling pins and pieces of dough my grandparents gave me when they were making bread. A lot of kids today have so many toys that they could open their own store. Their imagination is being occluded by the fact that toys now do what we used to imagine doing. Things sing, dance and repeat themselves over and over until you feel like a lobotomy would be preferable. My in-laws once gave one of my kids a talking bunny. It relentlessly said “Hi, there, my name is Bugs Bunny and I love carrots”. I finally buried it in the back yard. But it must have been programmed by someone who wanted to drive parents insane. In the spring our dog uncovered the rabbit from hell and it was still repeating its mantra.
We all used to go for a walk after dinner, now you need your Fitbit or pedometer to tell you how many steps you’ve taken, and a drink to replace your electrolytes in case you get depleted. Your footwear needs to be commiserate to your activity. If you have to jump over a puddle in the middle of your walk, you should have a pair of “puddle jumping sneakers”.
Do I sound like a dinosaur? Perhaps, but I am hoping that in some small way I can sound the alarm of excessiveness that has permeated our society through the lens of absurdity. Too much of a good thing, may just be too much!